Image: Saxby Chambliss, Jim Martin
Incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., faces Dem. Jim Martin in a runoff election, Tuesday, which could play a big role in a fllibuster-proof Congress.
updated 11/26/2008 10:35:08 AM ET 2008-11-26T15:35:08

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss is calling in a closer: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will join him for four rallies across the state on the eve of his hotly contested Dec. 2 runoff.

It will mark her return to the campaign trail after her bid as John McCain's vice presidential candidate and a chance to show off some political muscle in a state that backed her GOP ticket with 52 percent of the vote.

Chambliss is running off against Democrat Jim Martin in a race that could help determine whether Democrats have enough votes to block Republican filibusters in the U.S. Senate. The Palin announcement electrified state Republicans in the closing days of the race.

"We've got the wind at our backs," Chambliss said Tuesday at a news conference with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Palin was the little-known governor of Alaska when Arizona Sen. John McCain tapped her as his running mate. She drew enthusiastic crowds on the campaign trail as the first woman to win the Republican nomination for vice president but also faced questions about her preparedness for higher office and her pricey wardrobe.

Still, she emerged from the losing campaign as a popular figure in some conservative circles, fielding book offers, documentary deals and countless interview requests. It's widely expected that she's run for president in 2012.

Palin is popular with Georgia's conservative base, which embraced her image as a gun-toting "hockey mom." The mention of her name at GOP rallies routinely draws louder cheers than that of McCain's. The Chambliss camp is counting on her energizing those voters in the campaign's final hours.

Video: Chambliss running against... Olbermann? Democrats are just two votes shy of the 60 needed to block GOP filibusters. Georgia is one of two unresolved contests. The other is in Minnesota, where a recount is under way in the race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.

Giuliani argued Tuesday that Chambliss is needed in Washington to prevent Democrats from being handed a "blank check."

"If we give them a blank check, they will sign that check and be taking money out of our pockets," Giuliani said at a news conference where he was flanked by law enforcement and rescue workers.

"This is an election that involves the whole country because of what's at stake."

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Martin's campaign on Tuesday hosted Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager in his 2000 presidential bid.

Brazile urged those who voted for President-elect Barack Obama to vote again for Martin, saying he would be an advocate for Georgians and a partner for Obama.

Palin's decision to campaign in Augusta, Savannah, Perry and Atlanta for Chambliss is a testament to the race's competitiveness, she said: "Saxby Chambliss is calling out the cavalry because he needs to motivate the base."

Martin's campaign has asked Obama to campaign with him but has received no word yet on whether he will. Obama has recorded a radio advertisement and automated phone calls on Martin's behalf. And about 100 former Obama field operatives are in Georgia working for Martin.

The runoff has drawn a parade of political luminaries, including most of the Republican presidential primary field: McCain, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have all appeared for Chambliss. Gore and former President Bill Clinton have stumped for Martin.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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